There are many reasons and conditions that can cause knee pain in the growing child. One common condition is Osgood Schlatter's Disease, more commonly occuring in males than females.
In the growing child, there are growth plates that allow the bones to lengthen and increase in size. This growth plate is actually a cartilage layer across the bone. Just below the knee, at the attachment of the patellar tendon, there is a large growth plate. In the active, growing child, this growth plate can become over-used or irritated from repetitive running and jumping stresses that cause inflammation of the cartilage layer in that growth plate. This can cause significant swelling and discomfort, much like tendinitis.
This condition is typically caused by over-use of the growth plate, and does not involve damage to the growth plate or leave the child predisposed to future problems. Once the child matures and the bones stop growing, the growth plate will fuse. Once the growth plate has fused, the irritation stops and the discomfort resolves. Occasionally, the individual is left with a slight prominence to the bone in the area of that irritated growth plate.
Treatment is directed at relief of the discomfort. Typically, activity restrictions to limit the running and jumping is very effective. Icing to the area can also help decrease the inflammation. Occasionally anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin can also be effective in decreasing some of the inflammation or irritation.
This information is provided by Orthopedic Spine and Sport Medicine Center as basic information about a specific orthopedic topic. It is not intended as a personal reply to your specific questions or concerns. It is hoped that the contents of this instruction will help you understand the nature of your orthopedic problem and the possibilities of treatment. The final decision regarding treatment, however, must take into account the possibilities of outcomes and complications and should be made only after consideration and further discussion with your physician. For more information, please contact Orthopedic Spine and Sports Medicine Center at 201-587-1111.